Fellow materialistic victims of the consumer society, I come to you today with a product review. I have long said every dollar spent on cycling is ten saved on driving, which means going out right now and laying down $1,745 on your very own priest bike, will put you ahead by $17,450 (or $15,705, but let’s not be pedantic). Consider too that, at $1,745, an Achielle (pronounced “a keel”) Craighton Cross Frame is the cheapest cultural capital for which your economic capital can be exchanged, except maybe for back seats at the Kiev Ballet for 40 Ukrainian Hryvnia, (though going there hardly raised my social standing).
So where was I? Reviewing a bike, I believe. Those Europeans don’t fuss about filing welds smooth on non-racing bikes. They build these frames fast and true, then set them to work. And unlike some Euro bike brands now selling utility bikes as though they should never leave revolving podia under hot lights, the family owned Belgian based Achielle company sell to Australia with no more BS than a Belgian would swallow. You get a frame that will last, a quality factory build by people who never departed from making bikes made for transport (rather than sport), and top-shelf components to justify the long trip in a cargo ship to the antipodes. And best of all, you pay what a Belgian would pay, plus a little extra to account for that shipping.
My dear old friend Scoop has had his priest bike for a few months, and has surprised me by seriously riding the baby. Some in my city may remember Scoop’s brief time as a church goer. What better tribute to those days when he would close his eyes in public places and speak out loud, than to now own a bike charged with all the sexual power of Christendom (refer to this earlier blog entry for a full explanation).
Lest I digress now with any more information about my trip to Ukraine (you must understand, I was a Christian once too), I will place you in the bosom of Scoop, who penned these most flattering words about his new bike:
Like many people, I have returned to cycling as an adult after many years out of the saddle.
I have friends who ride mountain bikes and road bikes, so why did I choose the Achielle Craighton Cross Frame priest cycle?
I have a dear friend. A unique and gifted person, father, husband, academic, Talking Heads fan, dreamer, break dancer and writer. [He’s talking about ME folks!] This friend has taught me many things. He introduced me to good coffee, convinced me to start surfing again, enticed me to travel and has thankfully shared all my adult years. The same friend has for ages enthused about the joys of cycling. I could resist no more, and enjoyed some time on his range of beautiful Dutch and Danish style bicycles. It is difficult to repel his enthusiasm at times.
I was new to the vintage or Dutch bicycle culture and history, and so had to be educated about the finer details of chic cycling.
I gained a quick appreciation of steel frames, internal hub gearing, drum brakes, the upright riding position, swept back handle bars, leather saddles, chain guards, stainless steel wheels, even tweed. All things I might not have otherwise considered. My own thoughts were black, big enough for a 6 foot bloke, good for riding to work and a bit stylish.
So when it came to getting my own bike, the weight of expectation was overwhelming. It had to be Dutch, well actually Belgian … but you know what I mean. My Achielle Craighton Cross Frame priest bicycle arrived full assembled, all I had to do was set the handlebars and seat. All work shop tested and ready to roll. I knew almost immediately I was on a good thing.
On my first ride through our city on a sunny Sunday afternoon, climbing a steady hill at a steady pace, I was passed by a fine young lady on a bright coloured fixie. Looking every bit the cool urban cyclist, she pulled along side me and said “now that is a cool bike”.
It really is a thing of beauty.
[Editor’s note: We must assume it is the promise of more attention from girls half his age with heart stopping piercings that has inspired Scoop to give this bike so much use as he has].
For those educated about the finer points of bicycles, you will no doubt appreciate the list of quality features this bike includes. Traditionally lugged and brazed and double powder coated chromoly frame, a Brooks England leather saddle and leather handgrips, zinc-plated double powder coated Mudguards, Shimano Nexus 8-Speed hub gears, Shimano front and rear drum brakes, Bush & Muller Lumotec lights, Van Schothorst 28 inch Stainless steel rims, Schwalbe Marathon plus tyres … it goes on … rear luggage rack with rubber straps, chain guard, Hebie Bi-pod Kick stand, Axa Defender integrated wheel lock, even a steering stabilizer.
But how would I describe the ride? Smooth, quiet and easy.
Having owned the bike for a few months now, what maintenance have I had to do? Check the tyres. Am I glad I bought it? You bet.
If you are looking for a bike that is comfortable, easy to ride, surprisingly fast, beyond easy to look after, catches the eye and will last for decades … an Achielle bike is for you.
My only slight disappointment at first was the lighting. I immediately liked the retro cool of the bottle, but the noise from the Axa Basta wheel dynamo and noticeable drag did bug me a little. However after a little nervous fiddling with the position of the bottle and contact with the tyre … bingo! All sorted, not as noisy, and now I hardly notice the drag. I am also told should it ever need replacing I will be very thankful not having to replace the whole hub. So in the end I am glad I have it.
In all, my friend has again done me a favour. Sure Tooheys New will get the job done, you can get a caffeine fix drinking Red Bull … but I would rather drink fine red wine, great coffee and ride an Achielle Craighton Cross Frame … life is too short.
So there you have it. Scoop is regularly riding again for the first time since he was a kid growing up in the flat lands of Armidale. He’s on a bike with all the working parts in the hubs where they stay clean. The rims, saddle, lighting kit, tires, and overall build quality all mark it apart from bikes in those Giant and Avanti stores, that really are so very depressing. Priest bikes turn heads, even in Holland, and have great lateral and torsional stiffness which means nothing to most except me. And that’s about it really, except to tell you all where to buy one yourself. Or out of deference to Scoop’s ulterior motives, should I keep that a secret?